Settlement for 1998 gas leak reached

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

A judge has ordered the former owners of a Cape Girardeau service station to pay $37,000 for environmental violations and permanently banned them from operating gas stations in Missouri.

In December 1998, about 3,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from underground tanks at Spanky's Texaco service station at 2201 Broadway.

At the time, Spanky's was owned by Republican strategist David Barklage and his business, Target Media Consultants Inc. Barklage is chief of staff to state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau.

Now under new ownership, the station operates as Value Gas and is owned by Broadway Retail.

Barklage signed off on the consent judgment ordered Friday by Judge Carl Gum Jr. Barklage, whose company faced possible civil fines up to $10,000 per day for non-compliance, had said he hoped to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.

Barklage admits fault

In signing the judgement, Barklage admits to the environmental violations and agrees to correct them.

The petroleum leak was discovered on Dec. 16, 1998, by the Cape Girardeau Fire Department after residents complained of a strong gasoline smell coming from the sewer. Firefighters detected explosive levels of petroleum vapors in the city's sewage system and called in emergency personnel from the Department of Natural Resources.

Five months before the spill, the station had been cited for environmental violations concerning the storage tanks, specifically their lack of a leak detection system. Two weeks before the spill, the violations remained uncorrected.

Contaminated soil

Although the leak has long since been repaired, the soil around the site is considered contaminated. Gum's order requires Barklage and Target Media to clean up the site to DNR's specifications within the next 18 months.

If Barklage follows all of the judge's orders, $17,000 will be knocked off the fine, while the remaining $20,000 will be payable in $5,000 installments every six months at an annual 9 percent interest rate.

The order permanently bars Barklage or Target Media from having any financial interest or operating control in any petroleum business in Missouri.

Barklage and Target Media are also liable for the $1,727 cost to the Department of Natural Resources for its original emergency response.

If Barklage violates any of the judge's orders, the entire $37,000 becomes payable immediately.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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